The Food and Drug Administration has released the first set of national standards defining what makes food “gluten free.” Gluten is a protein that naturally occurs in grains like rye, barley, and wheat. Besides not using these grains, the new FDA regulations only allow foods with trace amounts of gluten to use the designation.
Jeff Brockway is head baker and owner of Buckwheat’s Gluten Free Bakery in Nashua. Since he tests his products on-site, he doesn’t expect it to affect what he’s selling. But, “it may make it a little bit easier on the supplier side to at least bring this to a level of consistency," Brockway says.
"It’s sometimes hard to…the documentation that’s provided by each vendor often varies in format in how they establish gluten free. So sometimes it’s a challenge to determine what their process is, and if they truly have a gluten free product.”
Manufacturers have until next August to comply with the new regulations. A gluten free diet is often necessary for people suffering from Celiac Disease. It’s an autoimmune disease that can damage the digestive system if a patient consumes the protein. But the diet is also gaining mainstream traction. Last year, gluten free products raked in more than $4 billion in sales.